Southern California Car Crash Hotspots

 Driving at night in Los Angeles County presents many challenges. Traffic can be lighter, but that leads to many drivers who exceed safe speeds. Take your time, be well rested, and plan your route ahead to avoid being involved in a car accident.

Driving at night in Los Angeles County presents many challenges. Traffic can be lighter, but that leads to many drivers who exceed safe speeds. Take your time, be well rested, and plan your route ahead to avoid being involved in a car accident.

Anyone who has driven on the congested roads in Southern California can attest to the unique driving conditions here in comparison to other parts of the country. Every day, tens of millions of people take to the roads of Southern California, particularly in the metro areas of Orange County and Los Angeles County. Where do most car crashes happen in Southern California, you may ask? A quick review of where you’re most likely to end up in a traffic collision could help you pay extra attention when you’re driving in these areas.

 Distractions are everywhere in Los Angeles. Assume the traffic surrounding you is distracted, and may not respond correctly to merging traffic, speeding traffic, or unsafe drivers.

Distractions are everywhere in Los Angeles. Assume the traffic surrounding you is distracted, and may not respond correctly to merging traffic, speeding traffic, or unsafe drivers.

Los Angeles Metro Area

For those driving in Los Angeles, there are a few areas that experience consistent traffic congestion, meaning the areas are often in stop and go traffic, which tends to result in more rear end crashes. Pay attention to on and off ramps, especially those near major freeways like the 110, the 405 Freeway, and the 5 Freeway. Other areas that experience higher than normal rates of crashes include areas where traffic merges to 'exit only' ramps. If you've driven in Southern California for long, you know that instead of waiting in line for their turn to exit on a ramp, many drivers will wait until the last possible second, then cut in front of slowed traffic so they don't miss their exit. This causes many rear end crashes.

Remember that Los Angeles is a hub for travelers, meaning many people are in and out of the city who do not live here and therefore do not become acclimated to the unique driving environment. Because there are so many cars on the road, we must acknowledge that lots of the cars that surround us at any given time are driven by people who may not know where they are going exactly (or which road or exit they're looking to turn onto next), or are uncomfortable with the speed of traffic. This can lead to dangerous situations. We are comfortable with our own driving skills, but it is often the people who surround us on the road who create dangerous circumstances.

 Los Angeles is not all freeway. There are beautiful neighborhoods, but these can be easy to get lost in too. Take your time, plan ahead, and maintain a safe distance from other drivers to avoid a car crash.

Los Angeles is not all freeway. There are beautiful neighborhoods, but these can be easy to get lost in too. Take your time, plan ahead, and maintain a safe distance from other drivers to avoid a car crash.

If you miss your exit, or are lost, it is best to pull off the freeway to a safe spot in order to gather your thoughts and plan your route. Do not try to keep driving while fiddling with a GPS device or an app on your phone; distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car crashes in Los Angeles, and often results in injury. If you are about to miss your exit, let it happen and move on - forcing your way into traffic, especially during peak hours, can result in danger situations, where you, your passengers, or other drivers may be seriously injured.

 Orange County freeways can be just as jammed as Los Angeles freeways. Plan your travels ahead to avoid congestion zones.

Orange County freeways can be just as jammed as Los Angeles freeways. Plan your travels ahead to avoid congestion zones.

Los Angeles can be a difficult place for any driver. It is normal to get lost occasionally, to miss an exit, or to get stuck in frustratingly slow traffic. Fortunately, planning ahead, knowing which part of Los Angeles is experiencing high volumes of traffic at the time your are planning to travel, and adhering to defensive driving techniques can all help you avoid a traffic collision. 

Orange County Metro Area

Orange County also has several areas that experience frequent traffic, and these areas have more car crashes than most areas. As is the case in any big city or metropolitan area, the onramps and off ramps of the freeways are areas where car crashes are frequent. Orange County drivers will attest to the predictably bad traffic in a few areas in particular. The 55 Freeway, which connects the 405 Freeway and the 5 Freeway, is almost always stop and go traffic during the day. Additionally, the 55 Freeway has a juncture with the 405 Freeway close to John Wayne Airport, so there is more traffic in that area due to people coming and going to the airport.

The 5 Freeway runs north and south through California, connecting San Diego and Orange County, Los Angeles, all the way up to the northern parts of the state. Thus, there is a lot of commercial traffic on this thoroughfare. Many large semi trucks use the 5 Freeway, and traffic can move at a very fast pace when it isn’t stop and go. This means speeds of 85 miles per hour are not unusual in the left hand lanes of traffic. Average speed, when traffic is moving, is around 80 miles per hour in the left hand lanes and the carpool lane. Many onramps have traffic lights, meaning you must stop and wait for a green signal before merging onto the freeway. Thus, there are cars entering traffic that start at a standstill, or zero miles per hour, that are trying to merge with traffic traveling in excess of 80 miles per hour. This results in many car crashes.

Driving Safely in High Traffic Areas

If you’re not used to driving in heavy traffic, Orange and Los Angeles counties can be an anxious and stressful experience. A few tips may be helpful to remember when you are navigating these areas:

  • Anticipate traffic at onramps and off ramps, and proceed through these areas with caution.
  • Anticipate traffic near airports. Los Angeles International Airport and John Wayne Airport are the busiest airports in LA County and Orange County, but there are many other airports that also experience heavy car traffic in these counties as well.
  • Remember what hours tend to be “rush hour” traffic hours. Millions of people commute to and from work using the freeways. Mornings from around 6:30 to around 9 a.m. tend to be busy traffic hours; evenings from 4 p.m. to around 7 p.m. tend to experience high volumes of traffic throughout California metropolitan areas. 
  • Stop and go traffic is part of life in California. Give yourself plenty of space, and don’t be in a rush.
  • Wear your seatbelt at all times, even if you think you’re driving too slowly to be injured. Just because you’re driving slow doesn’t mean someone won’t rear end you at a high rate of speed, a crash that can result in severe injury.
  • Know where you’re going before you get in the car. If you need to use a navigation aid on your phone, set the address prior to starting your drive. Trying to drive in heavy traffic is stressful enough, and adding the task of entering addresses into your phone can distract you. If the device is already set to give you directions before you embark on your journey, you are less likely to be distracted, and therefore are less likely to be involved in a car crash.
  • Plan ahead. Leaving half an hour early can sometimes mean saving yourself from sitting in traffic for hours. This is especially true when you are trying to arrive at your destination during or around rush hour traffic. If you can, it is often worth it to drive to your destination early in order to avoid heavy Los Angeles or Costa Mesa commuter traffic.
  • Check traffic apps before starting your drive to make sure there are no road closures or car crashes that are obstructing traffic. Whatever your choice of app, many apps can help you predict where the worst traffic is likely to be so you can avoid areas of extreme or abnormal congestion. Many radio stations will also give live updates on traffic conditions during rush hour so you can avoid car crashes, which often result in road closures, or the number of lanes being reduced.
 Freeway driving is part of life in Southern California. Know which roads are experiencing bad traffic, and where construction may slow your journey. Planning ahead is key to avoiding frustrating situations of being stuck in traffic for hours.

Freeway driving is part of life in Southern California. Know which roads are experiencing bad traffic, and where construction may slow your journey. Planning ahead is key to avoiding frustrating situations of being stuck in traffic for hours.

Know the Area You’re Heading To

If you’re driving to a destination that is new to you, familiarize yourself with the area ahead of time. This means looking at a map of the area, or using Google to get some insight into what kinds f area you’re driving to. Are there schools or major shopping areas nearby that will result in high traffic? Is the neighborhood you’re heading to a place where there are lots of office towers, meaning that around rush hour there will likely be a lot of people coming and going from the area? Is the area perhaps more rural, such that facilities such as gasoline stations may be few and far between? Is there road construction happening on your route, or are parts your journey experiencing a detour due to any number of reasons? Are there any natural disasters, such as wildfires, that are restricting traffic, or making driving through the region either impossible, or on an “as necessary only” basis? All these questions can likely be answered by spending just a few minutes on the internet prior to getting in your car. Knowing more about your destination will result in your ability to avoid areas that will slow you down. It will also ensure you take a route that is likely to have less traffic, meaning you’re less likely to be involved in a car crash.

 

 It is rare to find the freeways of Southern California empty. Plan on traffic, no matter when you're driving. Crashes happen frequently at on and off ramps, during peak traffic hours (rush hour), and near major destinations, like schools, airports, and business centers.

It is rare to find the freeways of Southern California empty. Plan on traffic, no matter when you're driving. Crashes happen frequently at on and off ramps, during peak traffic hours (rush hour), and near major destinations, like schools, airports, and business centers.

It Didn't Hurt, But Now It Does: Your Car Accident Injury Recovery Questions Answered

All too often, people are involved in car crashes and don't realize they are injured until several days or even weeks after the crash. The reasons for the delay of symptoms varies from person to person, but there's no doubt that many injuries related to car crashes don't show up until after a delay. Unfortunately, car insurance companies will look at any gaps in treatment as evidence that the claimant was not injured by the subject crash. So what to do if you were hurt in a California car accident, but didn't realize the full extent of your injuries until a few days or weeks after the accident?

 Gaps in treatment can end up with the insurance company denying payment of your medical bills. Whenever you're injured due to another's negligence, it is imperative you seek medical treatment immediately.

Gaps in treatment can end up with the insurance company denying payment of your medical bills. Whenever you're injured due to another's negligence, it is imperative you seek medical treatment immediately.

Get Checked By a Doctor

The most important part of recovering from your personal injury is knowing what is hurt and how best to recover from the injury. Although nobody knows your body better than you, a qualified medical doctor can help assess the severity of your injuries and help chart a plan to help you recover. Most general practitioners will be able to discuss what hurts and point you in the right direction, which often includes x-rays and MRIs in order to find out exactly what the extent of your injuries are. The sooner you see a doctor, the better of you will be, both physically and in relation to your claim or lawsuit. Many law firms advise clients to see a doctor no later than within the first week of the car crash, and some injury lawyers refuse to accept clients who have not been to the doctor within a week, so the sooner you go, the better off you'll be.

What If I Don't Have Health Insurance?

Many people delay or forego entirely healthcare after a car crash because they don't have health insurance and they are afraid of the high cost of medical bills. A good law firm that practices personal injury law will be able to point you in the right direction. There are many doctors who will treat you with no payment up front, but will require payment once your injury claim settles. This is called lien-based treatment. In this situation, your attorney, yourself, and the treating medical office, all sign a document that says the doctor will be paid once the injury case settles. Of course, you would need to have an attorney represent you for your car crash for this setup to work for you, but the benefit is you can receive the healthcare you need at no out of pocket costs.

 If you don't have health insurance, seeking proper medical treatment can be scary. Talking with a good injury lawyer will set your mind at ease. If you were hurt by someone else's negligence, you have options.

If you don't have health insurance, seeking proper medical treatment can be scary. Talking with a good injury lawyer will set your mind at ease. If you were hurt by someone else's negligence, you have options.

What If I Was Previously Injured?

Sometimes, people who are hurt in car crashes are afraid they won't be able to be reimbursed for their losses because they were previously injured, or they have chronic pain. This is a common situation, and the law provides for a fair outcome. If your previous injury was worsened, or exacerbated, because of the car crash, you are able to recover the money you lost, or owe, due to the accident. That is, if the car crash made it worse, you shouldn't have to pay for the costs of medical care of getting you back to the state of health you were in before the crash. 

 Getting back to living life before your car crash isn't easy. Delaying medical treatment often makes the injury worse.

Getting back to living life before your car crash isn't easy. Delaying medical treatment often makes the injury worse.

What If I Have to Travel for Work and Miss Treatment?

Life doesn't just stop just because you were rear ended and hurt. Maybe you have a vacation scheduled, or you travel for work. If you're traveling, you can't be expected to go to your doctors appointments. In this situation, again, you will likely benefit from the counsel and representation of a lawyer who focuses on personal injury cases. A good lawyer will help explain to the other party's attorneys the reason you had to travel, and will likely be able to get you fair compensation for your injury claim. The rule of thumb is you should always seek proper medical treatment for as long as you need, and you should not delay or miss appointments. But if your travel plans require you to be away, a good lawyer can explain this to the insurance company and their lawyers.

Now What?

First things first: get to the doctor! You need to take care of your health following a car crash. If there has been a delay in treatment, you will likely benefit from speaking with a lawyer who has seen cases similar to yours. In most cases, the law firm will review the facts of your case at no cost to you, and most law firms in personal injury work on a contingency fee basis, meaning their fee comes out of the case settlement value. This means you will not have to pay up front, but the fees will be deducted from your settlement. Of course, no good injury law firm would take your case and work for free - if they take your case, they know they can win. In summary, you need to get back to the doctor to treat any injury that was caused by your car accident. Then, you should consult with a lawyer who has seen a situation like yours before. 

 

Your Injury Claim, Compared to Millions of Other Similar Claims

Plaintiffs looking for a fair and reasonable settlement to their personal injury claim are often frustrated by low settlement offers and prolonged delays in the resolution of their matter. Many people who are injured feel they are treated unfairly by the at-fault party’s insurance company and cannot understand why they are being offered such low amounts of money to settle their case. This frustration is a popular sentiment among people hurt in car crashes, slip and fall cases, premises liability matters, and basically all personal injury situations in California. If you were injured and it was not your fault, a peek into the personal injury settlement process can help you understand why your case is being handled the way it is, and what you can do about it.

 With so many drivers on California roads, insurance adjusters see thousands of claims cross their desks. Making your claim be more than a number is the key to getting your injuries reviewed fairly.

With so many drivers on California roads, insurance adjusters see thousands of claims cross their desks. Making your claim be more than a number is the key to getting your injuries reviewed fairly.

It’s Not You - It’s The Millions of Other Cases

If you’re lucky, you never get in a car crash. If you are in a car crash and are injured, however, you will likely have the unpleasant experience of trying to pay for your medical bills, additional transportation expenses, lost wages, and many other costs associated with an accident that was not your fault. Unfortunately, even though the law provides a way for you to have all these expenses paid for by the person or entity who caused your injury, the chances you’ll see a check arrive in your mailbox that covers everything are slim. The reason insurance companies tend to offer small amounts to settle claims is because they can. That is, the great majority of people who are trying to settle their injury case on their own do not know what to do with a bad offer, and they cannot negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement on their own because they don’t know the true value of their case. 

Consider for a moment that you were injured in a California car crash, say for example in Orange County or Los Angeles County. These counties are home to millions of people. Over the years, insurance companies have handled millions of cases in California and throughout the country, and your case is compared to other similar cases. How? Insurance companies keep big data that shows what the estimated value of a case is. For example, the type of car you drive, your zip code, your ethnicity - it all comes into play, whether insurance companies admit this or not (they deny this). The facts of your case, such as the amount of property damage involved, the amount of your medical care, the type of crash, and many other factors, are often plugged into an algorithm that produces a number. This number is the basis for the insurance adjuster’s starting negotiation point; many lawyers suspect that some insurance companies do not even review the photos or read the documents provided to them. They plug in the numbers and run the calculation, and from there they use a number to try to get you to settle your case. 

What To Do With a Bad Injury Settlement Offer?

Because insurance companies see millions of claims, there is a sense the plaintiff’s case is not reviewed in great detail in the majority of situations. Also, because insurance companies keep big data sets that show the settlement values of similar cases, and because most plaintiffs or claimants don’t hire a lawyer or personal injury law firm to represent them, the settlement values are often quite low. That is, when a lawyer is involved, the value rises, as a good lawyer knows what a case like yours will likely settle for. In this way, because your case is compared to millions of other cases, the great majority of which were settled by the individuals by themselves who often don’t know the true value of their case, you are being given a settlement number that is low. 

If you were hurt and want to know what the value of your case is, the best thing you can do is talk with an injury lawyer. A personal injury attorney who practices exclusively injury law in California will be able to compare your case to similar case values that involved an attorney. They will be able to consider up to date trends in the courts, and correspond with a community of personal injury plaintiff attorneys to “round table” your case and give you an evaluation of what is fair and reasonable in your matter.

Putting a Face to a Name

Insurance adjusters can decide to offer you $10,000 or $100,000, or any number for that matter, depending on their evaluation of your case. If your lifestyle was greatly affected, such as if you are a caretaker or a parent to young children, or you had to miss work due to your injuries, it is hard for an insurance adjuster to put a number on that. What is that worth? The reality is that if your loss is not represented by a bill, the value given to lifestyle changes and hardships is often zero. Even though your life is turned upside down and you’re bogged down with bills you don’t know how to pay, or you missed out on a special occasion, or you can’t perform your parental duties or participate in hobbies that you previously loved - none of this matters if you can’t put a number on it. A good lawyer will be able to argue persuasively that these changes to your life can only be compensated by paying you money for your loss. How much is this worth? Personal injury attorneys who handle lots of cases know how to argue for fair and reasonable settlement value. Or, if the insurance company refuses to acknowledge your loss, a good lawyer will bring your case before a court and persuade a jury that you should be paid for your losses.

Of course, nobody wants to go to court. The best scenario for you if you are hurt and want to be treated fairly by insurance is to have the insurance company take your claim seriously, or give it priority. When you are represented by an attorney, the insurance adjusters will often pay closer attention to your case. This is because they know their conduct is being monitored. Personal injury lawyers know that insurance agents and adjusters are regulated by the State of California insurance code. Most people know there are rules as to what insurance companies can and cannot do, but they don’t know what the rules are. Car crash attorneys who practice only personal injury matters know the rules that adjusters are supposed to adhere by; when the adjusters aren’t doing what they are supposed to, they know, and they can fight on your behalf to make sure your case gets a fair review. 

Making Your Case Stand Out From the Other Cases

At the end of the day, the difference between a fair settlement and an unfair settlement is the attention given to your matter by the insurance company, and the exposure they think the insurance company has in the future. That is, if you don’t accept their proposals, what will happen? Will you simply go away? Will you hire a lawyer who will fight them and require them to spend a lot of time and money on your case? Could the insurance company be liable for millions of dollars due to a court verdict that punishes the insurance company for its bad behavior or failure to adhere to the insurance code? The best way to stand out, in the opinion of many, is to seek the counsel of a lawyer or law firm that knows the true value of your case. Injury lawyers in California usually do not charge for an initial consultation, and the advise you can get in that time could be the difference between something fair and something that is pennies on the dollar for your claim. 

How to Choose an Injury Attorney

Before you sign a contract with an attorney, consider that your attorney will be an individual or office that you may communicate with on and off for several months, or several years, depending on the nature of your injury. Are you talking to a lawyer, or a salesman? Is the person you’ve been dealing with the same individual you’ll be talking to in the future? Is the law firm you’re considering a firm that focuses on only injury cases, or are they a jack of all trades, do-it all firm? If they claim to do all types of cases, what are they chances they have the experience and up to date knowledge of personal injury case values throughout California? Most lawyers would agree that the best thing would be to speak with an attorney who is willing to discuss your case, give you a fair evaluation, and can tell you who the attorney that will be handling your matter in the future is. 

 

How Gaps in Treatment Affect Injury Claims

One of the frustrations many people experience when trying to settle their personal injury claim with an insurance adjuster is trying to figure out what a “gap in treatment” is, and why the at-fault driver’s insurance refuses to pay for some medical treatment. If you were hurt by someone else, and you have medical bills that are the result of treatment you received following the injury, how is it possible that those bills will be your personal financial responsibility, when the reason you have them in the first place is because someone else was negligent? This article will help people who have been injured in a car crash understand what the insurance companies look for.

 Treatments to the back, neck, and spine, such as chiropractic and physical therapy care, can sometimes last several months after a car crash.

Treatments to the back, neck, and spine, such as chiropractic and physical therapy care, can sometimes last several months after a car crash.

Chronology of Medical Treatment

Immediately following your injury, which for the sake of using an easy to follow example, we’ll say was the result of a car crash. The law in California is that the person who hurt you must make you “whole” again, or put you in as close to the same condition you were in before the car crash. This means physically, emotionally, financially, and sometimes even socially. So if you were hurt, and you seek medical treatment, it follows that the person who hurt you should pay for your medical bills, right? Yes, and no. The at-fault driver is responsible for reasonable and medically-necessary treatment. So the insurance company can deny payment for medical treatment you receive that they say is not the result of your injury, in this example a car crash.

The most common way an insurance adjuster will deny payment on medical bills is by saying there was an unreasonable gap in treatment. If you wait too long to receive treatment, they will argue that you weren’t really hurt, and that treatment you receive after a gap is not really their insured’s responsibility. So what should you do to make sure the insurance adjuster doesn’t refuse to pay your medical bills by saying you waited too long to treat your injury?

 Proper diagnostic studies, such as an MRI, can help avoid gaps in treatment. If you know the severity of the injury, you're better equipped to treat it properly.

Proper diagnostic studies, such as an MRI, can help avoid gaps in treatment. If you know the severity of the injury, you're better equipped to treat it properly.

The first thing any injury lawyer will advise their attorney to do is get a medical checkup as soon as possible. If you’re hurt, go to a doctor. Go to an urgent care, or an emergency room, if necessary, but if you were injured, you need to have a medical professional document the nature of your injury. From there, you should follow the advice you are given. For example, if you go to your primary care physician and he or she tells you that you require an x-ray, or an MRI, then it is your responsibility to follow up and get the care they tell you is needed. If you don’t do what your doctor says, the insurance companies will say you were non-compliant with recommended treatment. This hurts your claim, and as it relates to the outcome of your case, it is more likely you will receive less compensation during the settlement phase of your injury case.

What is a gap in treatment?

Our office has seen insurance adjusters claim that delays in seeking the advice of a doctor for as little as three days after a car accident is unreasonable. More common, any delays of more than five days after a crash will certainly be disputed, and the longer you go in between treatment, the worse it will be for your case. This can be difficult for single parents and anyone who works, as taking off work, or scheduling a babysitter to make it possible for you to visit a doctor and receive the treatment you need is sometimes a difficult obstacle. A good injury attorney will be able to successfully argue that any gaps were not only reasonable, but that you did everything you could to follow up on medical treatment. After all, the injury was not your fault in the first place, so you should not have to turn your life upside down to go to the doctor.

What is a proper treatment sequence?

If your primary care physician says you need chiropractic care, or physical therapy, generally the minimum number of appointments you should plan on attending is one per week; gaps of more than one week can hurt your claim. Of course, life happens and it can be hard to stay consistent with treatment. The medical benefits of going to a chiropractor or physical therapist are greater if you go more frequently; a good chiropractor or physical therapy office will be able to work around your scheduling conflicts, and give you therapy you can do at home to help alleviate your pain. Most personal injury law firms in California are aware of the good chiropractors and physical therapy offices that help people recover from car accidents, as well as those who perhaps have a reputation of not helping their patients reach a full recovery.

what if I need to return to treatment after a gap?

Unfortunately, many people have no choice but to return to treatment, such as a chiropractor or physical therapist, not because their schedule was crazy or they were being lazy, but because their symptoms/injuries returned. That is, after a sequence of treatment at a chiropractor or physical therapist, the doctor says let's see how it goes, and after a few weeks, you realize you are still suffering from pain from the car crash. Most doctors put in their notes that this may happen. This is often referred to as a flair up. Insurance companies do whatever they can to deny paying for these kinds of treatment. In many cases, the only way you'll successfully get them paid for is by hiring an attorney. In fact, this is a common reason people seek advice from an injury lawyer - they have a need to continue medical treatment for their injury, but the at-fault driver's insurance is saying they won't cover the bills.

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Can an Injury Attorney Help?

It is hard to imagine a circumstance where contacting an injury attorney after a car crash would be a bad idea. If nothing else, you'll be able to ask the questions you're wondering about, and get the advice from someone who works on this type of legal case every day. Gaps in treatment can hurt your claim, but not all "gaps" that insurance adjusters deny are fairly denied. Keep in mind that the best attorney to answer your question may not be in town. This is normal, and most injury firms that practice exclusively injury law in California represent clients throughout the state. If you live in a rural area or small town, chances are the best injury lawyer to consult with is not close by. However, many law firms in areas of California with greater populations, such as Orange County and Los Angeles County, are able to fully service clients that live within the state of California, with ease using technology. 

 

Treatment for a Car Accident Injury: How Long Can You Treat?

One of the most frequent and important questions regarding treatment for an injury stemming from a car accident is how long you can treat and expect that the at-fault driver's insurance company will pay for your treatment. Some injuries, such as a broken bone, may be fairly predictable, while other car crash injuries may take significantly longer to mend.

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Big Picture: Treat Until You're Healed

The law basically says that if you were injured and it was not your fault, it is the other party's responsibility to make you whole again. This has been interpreted to mean that you should essentially be put back in the same position you were before the car crash. One way insurance companies avoid paying medical claims from car crashes is by saying that your injuries were "preexisting conditions," or in other words, you already had the ailment or were hurt in that area of your body before the car crash. If that is true, the insurance company (who steps in for the actual driver who caused the crash), does not have to pay for your medical bills relating to a preexisting condition. But what if you were injured in an area of your body that was already painful or hurt, and now it is worse?

Aggravation of Preexisting Conditions

Nobody is perfectly healthy, and the older we get, the more ailments we tend to have. For example, it is common for older people to have back pain. So if you have back pain before a car accident, does that mean that you can't receive medical treatment for the pain if it is now worse than it was before your car accident? California courts have taken the approach of looking at what is fair and reasonable, and consider whether the treatment received is medically necessary. Thus, if you had a bad back before the crash, but it has gotten worse, you should be able to seek treatment. After all, the increase in pain cannot be attributed to you being older, but directly relates to the car crash. Thus, California residents (and this is the same for those living in Southern California as in Northern California) should consider getting medical help and treatment for the aggravation and exacerbation of prior injuries if it is reasonable and medically necessary.

Examples of Treating Prior Medical Conditions

Consider that some people are involved in multiple car crashes. After all, California roads are among some of the busiest in the country, and some of our cities, like Los Angeles, Orange County metro area, like Irvine and Costa Mesa, see millions of drivers every week on their thoroughfares. Thus, some people experience a car wreck more than once. What if a person is injured, received medical treatment and is feeling better, and then gets in another car accident that is not his or her fault, but is injured in the same way again?

If the injury is in the neck and back, the individual will likely follow this type of treatment: a visit to a doctor, which may include going to the emergency room or an urgent care, but often is simply a visit to your primary care physician; then, perhaps they have an x-ray taken, or an MRI, in order to find out the extent and severity of the injury; next, they may go to a chiropractor or pain management doctor and try to heal their injuries through therapy; finally, if necessary, the individual may have a surgical procedure, such as a fusion surgery, or receive a stem cell injection, or an epidural injection. There tends to be a chronology of care that increases in seriousness as the treatment continues. Nobody wants to have an epidural injection, or have an invasive procedure like surgery on their back. However, if the pain a person feels continues, they may elect these procedures.

How do Insurance Policy Limits Play In?

The more treatment an injured person receives, the more expensive it will be. The more intensive the treatment, such as surgery or injection of an epidural or stem cells, the more costly the care is. But what happens if there is not enough money in the at-fault driver's insurance policy? The basic answer is that the at-fault driver's insurance company can rarely be made to pay you more than what their insured's policy limits are. Thus, if the individual who caused the crash was insured for only $15,000, at the end of the day, that is likely the most the insurance company will pay for your medical bills. Of course, if there is a bigger insurance policy, and your injury requires more costly medical care to recover from, then the insurance company will be made to pay more to make you whole again.

It does not seem fair that the same injury can settle for different sums of money, but consider a situation in which two people have the same injuries, but one was injured by someone with a million dollar insurance policy, and the other person was injured by someone with a $15,000 "minimal" policy (in California, to legally drive on California roads, $15,000 is the minimum amount of liability coverage individuals need to be insured for). Now, consider that the two people both need a surgery that costs $50,000. The individual who was hit by someone with a million dollar policy will be able to get the surgery and can reasonably predict the insurance company will eventually be made to foot the bill. The individual hit by the driver with the minimal insurance policy may elect to get the surgery, but how will they pay for it? If the insurance company pays the $15,000, what happens to the remaining $35,000 of the bill? And what about pain and suffering, lost wages, and future medical treatment?

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How an Injury Attorney Can Help

Most people don't know how to proceed in a situation such as the example shown above - even finding out how much the at-fault driver is insured for can be a great challenge to people who are not represented by an injury lawyer. The good news is that injury law firms usually work on a contingency fee basis, meaning whatever money they are paid comes out of what they win. For example, most injury lawyers will pay all the costs on a case up front, and won't get pain anything until they win your case, so you're never left writing a check to your lawyer, not knowing whether you'll actually win in the end or not.

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An injury attorney can help you compare your situation to other cases, and can help advise regarding policy limits, jurisdictional issues (a case in San Francisco may play out differently in court than it would in Los Angeles County, or Orange County), and other questions you might have. Regarding how long you should treat, a good injury lawyer will be able to get into the details about your prior injuries or ailments, and will help you understand the process of how injury cases are handled, including what the general value of your case may be, and whether or not your case is one that will likely go to trial or not. 

Ask More Questions

The more you understand how the injury claims process works in California, the better position you will be in to make wise and educated decisions. If you're like most people, this is new territory. Fortunately, injury lawyers and most injury law firms have seen hundreds and sometimes thousands of cases, and their attorneys can compare your case with the outcome of similar cases. Without knowing how similar cases worked out in the past, you will have a hard time making educated decisions regarding your treatment. For this reasons, many people find it helpful to discuss their injury with a car crash lawyer, even if they don't decide to hire the lawyer. The more you know, the better you'll be in the long run, and that is never more true than when it comes to treating your car accident injury.

 

 

The Most Dangerous Cities in California: Why, and What You Should Know

California residents are no stranger to the topic of crime and danger, as many cities in California have a reputation of being busy, densely populated areas, which are sometimes affiliated with high crime rates. How much of this stigma is true, and should you worry about it? A recent article discussed the data and ranked the ten most-dangerous cities, adding data to the discussions and resulting in some surprising results. While the article focused on crime rates and property crime, it failed to take into consideration a few key data points, such as number of traffic accident fatalities.

The California "Dangerous Index"

First, the California cities shown on the index below obviously are home to many residents, but not all the cities are major towns. For example, of the most dangerous, according to this index, only Barstow, San Bernardino, and Santa Cruz are actually large communities. Emeryville, which is the most dangerous California city, is home to approximately 12,000 people; Red Bluff is home to approximately 14,000 people, and Commerce being home to only about 14,000. Also take into consideration what the study is measuring - property crime. Commerce, California is an industrial and shipping city, so there are hundreds of warehouses, so it makes sense that there would be more property crime there.

Consider Other Factors

The authors of this article were direct in saying their article was "infotainment," so it is not by any means meant to be a conclusive study. However, if you're wondering what other factors to consider about whether a city or region in California is safe or dangerous, crime rate, including violent crime, car accident rates, fatality rates for youth and adults, and other metrics should be taken into account. For example, consider that the total number of car accident deaths in a single year (2013) in Southern California were as follows: Los Angeles County, 630 traffic deaths; County of Orange, 185 traffic deaths; Riverside County, 225 traffic deaths; San Bernardino County, 264 traffic deaths; County of San Diego, 201 traffic deaths. When considering where to live in California, this statistic may be more insightful into the safety of an area than the rate of property crime.

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It is also important to remember that statistics often are over general. For example, in 2013, 32 percent of all drivers killed in a car crash in California tested positive for drugs, legal and illegal. So even if an area has a high number of traffic related deaths, it does not mean that area is necessarily inherently dangerous, because in many of the statistics, personal decisions were involved, such as the driver who ends up dying in a motor vehicle accident being the one who decided to take drugs or drive while under the influence of alcohol or prescription medicine. 

True Threats to Safety

When deciding where to visit or live in California, people serious about making the move or visit will obviously look at many factors. Of course violent crime is an important statistic to look at, but many California cities have low crime rates compared to similarly sized cities in other states or part of the country. Consider the number one cause of death of adolescents is unintentional injury, and in that category, traffic related crashes resulting in death are the number one cause of death. So whether or not an area is safe to drive in may be a bigger threat to your family's safety than the property crime rate. Of course, the more cars, the more car crashes, and the more injuries related to car crashes are likely to happen. Because California has so many residents living in many large cities, there are lots of traffic related deaths in these cities, such as Los Angeles, Orange County, and the Bay Area. 

 

The 100 Deadliest Days: What You Should Know

The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day has become known by many people as the 100 Deadliest Days due to the number of traffic fatalities during this time. Many news outlets have reported on the issue in the last week, including most local California television networks and several California newspapers. While the '100 Deadliest Days' name is catchy and memorable, not everyone knows what it means.

 Parents are the key to helping teens develop safe driving habits and setting easy to remember rules and guidelines.

Parents are the key to helping teens develop safe driving habits and setting easy to remember rules and guidelines.

AAA Research & Tracking

AAA is known for its roadside assistance program and auto insurance, but it is also a leader in tracking travel data. According to the company, more than 1,050 people were killed in car crashes that involved teenage drivers in the year 2016 during this period. The company also mentions several factors that affect the uptick in traffic deaths during this time, including nighttime driving, speeding, and distracted driving.

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Nighttime Driving

Teenagers drive a lot at night during this time period due to their changed social schedules, as school is out and many teenagers spend more time with their peers at night. Driving at night in urban areas, such as around sporting stadiums, bars, dance clubs, and other places where young people like to socialize brings with it additional possible dangers. For example, many of these activities including alcohol as part of the social activity - consider how many people have had a few drinks and then get in their car after a basketball or baseball game! Your teen shares the road with them, and teenagers should be aware of their surrounding drivers more so at night than any other time.

Nighttime driving also includes drivers who are making long passages and road trips. The drivers may be heading to or from vacation, and the longer we drive, the less attentive we can be. This includes drivers returning home from college, or visiting friends and family on the weekend from their jobs. Many car accidents in California's big cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Orange County metro area, involve people who work there and are trying to get home. Young drivers should know that these cities have especially high number of car accidents in the summer months.

Parents should note that it is not just in the late hours of the night (more appropriately, the early morning hours of the next day) when crashes happen. A recent study shows that more crashes involving teens actually happen before midnight.

Speeding

During social outings, teens are more likely to speed with friends in the car, or if they are hurrying to get somewhere to meet up with their friends. While it may be perceived to be an issue with young male drivers only, the reality is that anyone speeding excessively presents a hazard to themselves and to those people around them. Several fatal car crashes in recent years have occurred on roads where the public tends to drive fast, such as the 73 toll road that cuts through Orange County, or several backcountry roads in the Riverside and San Bernardino area. These roads are, at some times, seemingly empty, which gives some drivers the perception that driving fast is OK. Tragically, you don't need to crash into another vehicle, or have another car hit you, to be injured in a car accident. As has been the case in these specific areas, the roads are empty and drivers drive too fast, not aware of how their car operates at high speed. Add to the mix alcohol, nighttime driving, drowsy or distracted driving, and you have a recipe for disaster. 

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Young drivers should know that speeding is not only dangerous when they are trying to steer around other vehicles, but can also be fatal when you're the only one on the road. Speed also tends to be involved with many fatal motorcycle accidents, which also happen at a higher frequency during this time period.

Distracted Driving

Much attention has been given to the affect of distracted driving due to cell phone use lately, but cell phones are not the only cause of distracted driving. When it comes to teenagers, too many friends in the car is a bad thing, and every summer there are tragic crashes that injury and kill young people driving together. While carpooling is encouraged by many due to the benefits of reduced emissions into the environment, parents of teenagers should know their teen's social habits and advise accordingly. Some teenagers are better equipped emotionally to drive when they have their friends in the car. Sometimes it may be safer to be driving alone and meet your group at the destination, rather than risk being distracted by rowdy passengers.

Lyft and Uber have added another option to the mix, making it possible for passengers to ride together, but cutting out the need for any of the teens to drive. This option, it should be noted, is not fool-proof, as Lyft and Uber drivers can be distracted as well, and the news has been full of stories where drivers are distracted by their young passengers and have to insist on better behavior in the back seat. Your teen should know that it is important to keep the volume of his or her voice down if driving in a hired car, as the driver needs to be able to concentrate on driving.

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Talk To Your Teenager

As a parent, you are key to helping your teenager drive safely. Teenagers should know that their parents care, and that their parents have given them specific, easy to understand and remember rules regarding driving during the summer months. First, they should know that there are dangers and hazards they cannot control, but may be able to avoid. They should know that if they are involved in a car crash and are injured, they should not worry about money, but should go to the hospital or doctor and get the care they need. Teenagers should know that there are more car crashes this time of year, and there are a lot of intoxicated drivers, distracted drivers, and just plain more drivers in general on the roads during the 100 deadliest days. 

Deaths From Injuries Rising Among Youth in America

CNN published findings from a report today in which the rise in accidental deaths among young people in America are analyzed. For many years, the total death rate among 10-19 year olds declined significantly, according to the report from the National Center for Health Statistics at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The decrease was between the years 1999 and 2013 and represented a 33% decrease in accidental deaths; however, between 2013 and 2016, the death rate rose 12%. Tragically, car accident fatalities play a large role in the uptick. 

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The increase in accidental deaths and serious injuries is not only attributed to car crashes, however. As the table below shows, drowning, suicide, homicide, and poisoning are also causing more deaths in recent years than in the past. Many experts point the blame at easily accessible recreational drugs and social media. Even as other causes of death and permanent injury rise in other areas, the fact remains that among 10 to 19 year-old adolescents, traffic injuries were the leading cause of death in 2015. The US Department of Health and Human Services' report entitled Deaths: Leading Causes for 2015 is an easy to read, informative study that would likely be of tremendous value to parents of children and teenagers. If nothing else, it gives parents and youth alike an objective reference point that shows the dangers young people around the world face. As parents often face a challenge from teenagers not wanting to hear it from their mom or dad, the study and data are indisputible proof that car accidents (shown in the table as "motor vehicle traffic") is, without question, a serious cause of unintentional injury and death among youth. 

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Parents interested in the data presented in this study may also benefit from visiting the National Vital Statistics System, which tracks public health data and includes statistics on vital matters such as traffic deaths, pedestrian versus auto deaths and injury, and drug and alcohol-related injury and death. 

What Can Concerned Parents Do?

The statistics showing an increase in traffic deaths do not specifically mention California, but California drivers are part of the data set, and the causes of death and injury most certainly apply to young people living here.  Parents can first help their families and loved ones by being aware of the threats and familiarizing themselves with the numbers. Once parents understand the threats to young peoples' safety, they can have a more insightful conversation with their kids and teenagers about the issues. Some marriage and family therapists recommend printing off data such as the studies referenced here, and allowing the teenager or young adult to review the material for themselves before trying to talk too in depth about the issue. Jumping right into it can come off as "preachy," and many young teenagers are becoming more comfortable with their own analysis skills and ability to form an educated opinion. Have them read it and ask them what they think.

Set Rules, Set an Example

Car accident deaths are often the result of a bad combination of texting while driving, alcohol or drug use, careless or distracted driving, or any combination of these factors. Checking your phone when driving can be a against family rules, for example, although for the rule to have any weight, parents must obey it too! The more young people see their parents practicing safe driving habits, the more likely they are to incorporate these habits into their own driving.

Discuss The Obvious

California residents who have driven here for a long time sometimes do not realize that our roads are, in many ways, not the norm. Not everyone is aware that the bad traffic and seemingly crazy driving on the 405 and 5 Freeways are actually especially dangerous and chaotic - not every freeway or highway is like this. In Southern California, for example, we have some of the most dense population, with the large majority of working adults commuting to and from work in their own vehicle, instead of using public transportation. This presents a unique challenge - our roads are more busy, and the volume of drivers using our roads and freeways is extremely high. Young drivers need to know that not only are they relatively new to the challenges and dangers of operating powerful and heavy vehicles, they are doing so in an especially dangerous place. It's ok to discuss the frequent car accidents and scary crashes we see on the side of the road with our teenagers. After all, many of California's metro areas are among the most dangerous driving thoroughfares in the country! 

Helping Teenagers Respond to Crashes

Despite our best efforts, parents cannot prevent crashes, and whether or not it was your teenager's fault that a car crash happened, your loved one needs to know how to respond in the event they are part of a car wreck. They need to know that they have to pull over and call the police if anyone was injured. They may not know that they need to take photos of the scene of the crash, ask that a California Highway Patrol report, or local police report, be taken. Your loved one should know that if they may be hurt or injured, they need to seek proper medical attention, which may include an ambulance ride to a nearby hospital or urgent care facility in order to assess their injury.

Many teenagers will resist this, but it can be a crucial step in diagnosing the extent of their injury. In California, the police and Highway Patrol are supposed to ask if the injured wants to be transported to a hospital. Also, teenagers are in the stage of life where they are starting to understand money and financial constraints, so they should know that if they do take the ambulance or go to the doctor, the other driver's insurance company can be held responsible for paying the bills (assuming the car crash wasn't their fault). Taking photos of the scene of the wreck is an easy one for young drivers to do, but some don't know that they should take pictures of the vehicles involved, the scene of the crash, the surrounding area, and any bruises or lacerations they may have gotten during the car crash. 

Seek Appropriate Counsel

After a car accident, adults and teenagers alike may have questions - this is normal, and the road to financial and physical recovery can be tricky and confusing. Dealing with medical bills, police reports, insurance companies and auto repair shops can take a toll on your wallet and your nerves. Depending on the extent of your injuries, it may be wise to discuss your crash and your injury with a lawyer or attorney who handles personal injury cases. There are many injury law firms in California who handle cases throughout the state. A good injury attorney will be able to point you in the right direction, give you a general evaluation or assessment of the value and strength of your case, and help you get a fair and reasonable settlement for your pain and suffering. You should never have to pay up front, as most law firms who handle injury cases work on a contingency fee and only take a fee if they win your case. 

How Does Lien-Based Medical Treatment Work?

Receiving proper medical treatment after an injury is critical to your physical recovery. If you don't get the right care, the chances that your injury will persist for many months and years is significantly higher. However, with the right treatment after a bad car crash or other type of injury, your chances of a full recovery are much better. But what about the cost of getting the "right" care? Most people don't have the cash or credit to get all the treatment they need, and this applies to people with good health insurance, too. 

 Some of the best medical facilities in California accept injury liens.

Some of the best medical facilities in California accept injury liens.

Lien-Based Treatment

Doctors area able to treat you and get paid later - obviously the doctor that treats you and gets a check from your health insurance has to wait a few weeks to get paid. This is one approach to the business of healthcare. Some doctors are willing to provide treatment with the expectation that they will be paid after an injury case settles. The idea is that if you were injured by someone else and there's a lawyer involved who is handling the case and expects to win, the insurance company will eventually be paying on the case. In this situation, the patient signs a lien, meaning that when the case settles, the doctor gets paid before the patient does. For example, if you are injured in a car accident and receive lien-based medical treatment, the sequence goes like this: treatment is received by you, with no out of pocket costs. Then, after your attorney wins the case, or reaches a settlement with the insurance company of the at-fault driver, the money goes into a trust account at the law firm's bank. From there, the attorney must first pay the doctor who has a lien - this contract/lien is in the attorney's file. In this way, the patient is able to get the right medical treatment, and the doctor's office is paid for its services.

 Proper diagnosis matters: It isn't enough to just say you were hurt, or that your life has changed. You need the right doctor with the right training to help you reach a full recovery.

Proper diagnosis matters: It isn't enough to just say you were hurt, or that your life has changed. You need the right doctor with the right training to help you reach a full recovery.

Why Might Lien-Based Treatment Be Good for Injured Patients?

Big HMOs can be difficult to schedule appointments with, especially if your treatment requires many follow-up visits, or a consultation with a specialist. We've all had the experience of waiting for a referral to a specialist and being told that so-and-so doesn't have an open appointment for a few weeks. Well, if you need to see an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon today, but you can't get in for a month, your health lays in the balance during that time. Also, the quality of care can be better with doctors who treat on a lien. Many lien-based medical offices, or doctors offices who accept traditional health insurance, as well as cash payments and lien based payments, are privately owned. These doctors are often highly specialized, meaning they are able to sustain their own businesses without the need to be part of a big HMO system or hospital. 

Because the offices tend to be privately owned, the doctors have more say in who they decide to treat, and who they decide they don't want to treat. This means they can control their schedules better, meaning your chances of getting in for an appointment are better. The payment system is also a big issue for a lot of people injured in car accidents, auto versus pedestrian injuries, and slip and fall injuries. Again, because many people don't just have thousands of dollars set aside in their bank account just in case they are injured in a car accident, most people are not ready for what can be expensive medical care after an accident.

 Access to the proper specialists without having to wait months for an appointment is one reason many injured people decide to seek lien-based treatment.

Access to the proper specialists without having to wait months for an appointment is one reason many injured people decide to seek lien-based treatment.

How Does Lien Treatment Affect Your Injury Case?

The bottom line is that if you don't get proper medical treatment for your injuries, you can't expect the insurance company to take your word for it and trust you were injured. No medical treatment means no settlement money to compensate you for your loss. For example, if you were injured in a car accident, but due to financial constraints or scheduling conflicts you weren't able to get the medical care you needed, you can't just expect the at-fault driver's insurance company to take a compassionate route and pay you the same amount for your injury as if you went to the doctor. Thus, even with very bad injuries, without the documentation and proper treatment from a doctor, the insurance company will not pay fair money on your claim.

But what is "fair" money anyways? Well, consider a scenario in which two people have identical injuries from the same crash. One person goes to the doctor, sees the specialists he/she is referred to, and reaches a full recovery after a few months. The doctor's notes document the patient's injury step-by-step, from the first visit until the last. Perhaps this person's case settles for $50,000. Now consider the second person does not go to the doctor, although they have the exact same injuries. This person has nothing to "prove" he/she was injured. They may not get any settlement at all. If they do get a settlement, it will likely be around a couple hundred of dollars, known as "nuisance money." If the second person gets $500, that's a difference of $49,500! The difference is the first person sought appropriate and reasonable medical care, and their injuries are documented by a medical professional. Although the second person had identical injuries, they basically walk away with nothing. 

How Can You Find Lien-Based Treatment?

If you got hurt in a car accident, or got hit on your bicycle, or was injured and it was not your fault, you're likely going to need to see a primary care physician, or other general medical practitioner. This may be at the emergency room, or at urgent care, or at your primary care physician's office. The office may refer you to future treatment, and you can ask if they know of offices for the treatment you require who will accept lien-based care. Also, most personal injury law firms are aware of medical facilities that are willing to treat on a lien. A good injury lawyer will have handled lots of injury cases, and so he or she will have worked on files and made payments on past cases to medical offices and doctors who accept lien-based care.

 Many top surgeons accept liens. This is one reason some injured clients decide to have their surgeries performed at a private medical clinic rather than at an HMO

Many top surgeons accept liens. This is one reason some injured clients decide to have their surgeries performed at a private medical clinic rather than at an HMO

What Kind of Treatment Can You Get on a Lien?

Name a kind of medical office or specialty and you can find an office that treats on a lien. In California, there are surgeons, chiropractors, MRI facilities, physical therapy offices, holistic medicine, orthopedic surgeons, pain management, podiatrists - the list is basically endless. This is not to say that every office accepts lien-based care, or even the majority. While lien-based treatment is increasingly popular, the majority of medical offices may not be comfortable with this arrangement. However, if a medical office has provided treatment and then gotten paid promptly by a good injury attorney, they are very likely to accept lien-based treatment. For this reason, a medical office may want to know the name of your attorney and the firm he or she works for. If your attorney is a general attorney who does a bit of everything, but does not focus on personal injury exclusively, it is less likely that the medical office will be willing to treat you on a lien. But, if you are represented by a law firm that focuses its entire practice on injury law, the chances that that medical office will be willing to treat you up front at no cost are much higher.

Get an Attorney With a Good Reputation

Because doctors want to work with attorneys who they know will win the case and pay the doctor's bill, it is important that you seek an attorney who has a lot of experience handling personal injury cases. Consider that with the aid of modern technology, the best attorney for handling your injury claim may not be in your town or even your county! Most law firms these days are able to do a lot of work using email, faxes, and video-chat, such that someone located in San Bernardino, for example, might be best off going with a law firm represented in Orange County or Los Angeles County. At the end of the day, you want an attorney who knows injury law backwards and forwards - the chances that you will find an attorney with that kind of experience just by happenstance that is located in your city or town may not be high. Most attorneys in California will agree that the best thing you can do is find an attorney who focuses on one type of case, and has room in his or her schedule to give your case the attention it deserves.

Still Have Questions?

The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. focus entirely on personal injury matters. They don't handle any other types of cases but injury claims. They accept car accident cases, auto versus pedestrian (including auto versus bicycle and skateboard), slip and fall, general negligence, products liability, failure to warn, and premises liability. The Lions are not a settlement mill - they won't just settle your case for pennies on the dollar in order to be able to handle more cases. All cases handled by The Lions are handled by an actual attorney. If you have questions about your case, including whether it is worth it to get an attorney, or whether in the end you'll get more money in your pocket by representing yourself or going with a lawyer, you should talk to a lawyer. Call The Lions and talk to a lawyer, not a salesman.  

 Back to where you were before the injury - that's what the law says you're entitled to after you're hurt by someone else's negligence.

Back to where you were before the injury - that's what the law says you're entitled to after you're hurt by someone else's negligence.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Boat Safety

Boating is one of California’s favorite pastimes. Every summer millions of locals and vacationers enjoy soaking up the California sun exploring coastlines and waterways, partaking in recreational activities such as boating, sailing, fishing, and water sports. California is popular for its warm climate, during the year boating accidents and fatalities may occur at a moment’s notice.

In 2016 there were 588 reportable boating accidents which resulted in 266 injuries and there were 50 reportable fatal boating accidents according to a 2016 California Recreational Boating Accident Statistics report release by California State Parks Division of boating and waterways.  Also, the Division of Boating and Waterways can help you learn about how to apply for your California Boater Card, which is required for boaters ages 20 years and younger. The State of California also offers several other boating safety courses to help its citizens and visitors to the state stay safe on the water.

Many of these crashes and accidents were easily avoidable. Tragically, many of the deaths and serious injuries that happen on the water are part of what are supposed to be exciting outings among family and friends, such as dinner cruises, scuba diving and snorkeling, surf excursions, deep sea fishing, and whale watching. None of these outings should result in injury to anyone involved. 

 Newport Harbor is one of the busiest harbors on the west coast. Unfortunately, it is also home to many boating injuries and accidents every year.

Newport Harbor is one of the busiest harbors on the west coast. Unfortunately, it is also home to many boating injuries and accidents every year.

Knowing your ABCs boating practicing safe a responsible boating habits start with knowing basic navigation rules and always boating sober.

Boating Do’s

·      Educate yourself on state laws before embarking on a boating excursion. Regulations vary by state so make sure you are following proper laws and protocol. 70 percent of operators involved in fatal boating accidents had no formal boater education. Be aware that even if you are an experienced boater, there are a lot of people who are renting a boat, many for the first time. They don't know what they are doing. Similar to driving, assume that the other boater does not see you, or does not know proper distance - be defensive and avoid traffic.

 Harbors can be dangerous for many reasons. Boaters are distracted, excited to be on the water, or eager to get off the water. Speed laws are strictly enforced to encourage safe passage making.

Harbors can be dangerous for many reasons. Boaters are distracted, excited to be on the water, or eager to get off the water. Speed laws are strictly enforced to encourage safe passage making.

 

·      Make sure your boat is mechanically sound and your engine, fuel, electrical, and steering systems are up to the task.

·      Check the weather forecast for your designation and know your safety limitations. Always let someone know where you are going and when to expect your return.

·      Keep a Global Positioning System (GPS) with you at all times and know how to use it. This includes checking batteries and maintaining in a dry box or bag. Regular testing is advisable. You don't want to go to use your GPS for the first time in an emergency and realize it is out of power.

·      Obey marine traffic laws and know warning and distress signals in case of an emergency. Always carry a working fire extinguisher and a warning flares.

·      Always travel slowly in shallow waters and keep alert around other watercraft, paddlers, and swimmers. The leading type of boating accident 2016 was caused by collisions with other vessels. Stand-up-paddle (SUP) is increasingly popular, as are accidents and fatalities involving SUPs. Remember that SUPs move slow and are not able to change direction quickly. 

·      Make sure you have adequate insurance protection. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure your boat is adequately covered for liability insurance.

Boating Don’ts

·      Don’t mix boating with drugs or alcohol. Based off reportable boating fatality statistics, alcohol or drug use is estimated to have played a role in over 24 percent of boating deaths. The US Coast Guard monitors boating and alcohol use in the major harbors, and the penalties for drinking and boating can be serious. 

·      Don’t forget life vests for each person on the boat. In fatal boating accidents, the leading cause of death is drowning. Again, alcohol often plays a role in the injury or death. 

·      Don’t overload the boat or permit passengers to ride on the bow, seatbacks, or gunwales.

·      Don’t forget to have designated lookout to keep tracks of other boats, swimmers, and debris and objects. Be especially careful entering and exiting the harbor. The closer you get to leaving the harbor, the more anxious many boaters get to increase speed. Many crashes happen in this zone of the harbor.

·      Don’t go faster than you should. Travel at a safe speed so you can be prepared to slow down suddenly if the need arises.

·      Don’t ignore posted speed limit and no wake zone signs.

·      Don’t jump a wake; make sure to be aware of others in the water as your cross at a low speed. Many boats are not built to sustain strong impacts. Jumping the wake of another boat can crack your hull and result in slow leaks into the bow of your vessel. 

·      Don’t forget to pack additional safety devices like a first aid kit, spare parts, and a radio. Communication with land can be crucial if you are involved in an accident. In Southern California, many incidents happen within a few miles of shore, but there is a tendency for boaters to assume that because there are sometimes many boats around, someone will come along. Remember that on some days, Catalina Island is easily visible from Orange and Los Angeles counties, while other days it is impossible to see. The same goes for boats: don't assume others will be able to see you. The marine layer and other precipitation can limit visibility. 

 Give larger yachts plenty of space - they cannot pivot their position on the water as quickly as smaller vessels. 

Give larger yachts plenty of space - they cannot pivot their position on the water as quickly as smaller vessels. 

As Summer begins the beaches and water will begin to fill with families, couples, and individuals who intend to enjoy their vacations and time on the water. Boaters have the responsibility to adhere to safe boating practices to not only protect themselves and their passengers, but also everyone around them on coastline and waterways.

 From mega yachts to small kayaks, the water is home to a broad array of vessels, each with the right to be on the water. Be aware of smaller craft near your own when exploring California's numerous waterways.

From mega yachts to small kayaks, the water is home to a broad array of vessels, each with the right to be on the water. Be aware of smaller craft near your own when exploring California's numerous waterways.

Despite your best efforts, boating accidents happen, and the scenarios in which injury can happen on the water are endless. If ever a need to a Personal Injury Lawyer for severe boating accidents, The Lions Injury Lawyers can help. Consulting with an experienced lawyer can help you navigate what is often a difficult and emotional time for you and your family. The laws regarding liability, insurance, negligence, and due care can be complex and confusing for anyone involved in an accident. Seeking proper medical treatment can be costly, and most people don't know how to get the care they need. The Lions Injury Lawyers are ready to answer your questions and help you move forward. You deserve to be compensated for your loss, including lost wages, loss of companionship and loss of consortium, pain and suffering, and the cost of your medical bills. Call The Lions today for a free, no-cost consultation.